Vatican promises response to UN criticisms

UN accused of going beyond ‘its competencies’

The Vatican’s official representative to the United Nations in Geneva has promised a full Vatican response to the critical report issued by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child report on Rome’s child safeguarding record.

Amid blistering criticism from the committee for the Vatican’s handling of sexual abuse cases, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, who in January testified on the issue before the UN body, said the subsequent report “has not done a good service to the United Nations” and insisted “the Holy See will respond”.

Archbishop Tomasi further pointed out that the final UN report was apparently completed ahead of his and Msgr Charles Scicluna’s eight hours of testimony in Geneva on January 16 which elucidated the efforts on the part of Rome to improve its record on child safeguarding. The report, therefore, he said, did not take into account what has been achieved towards protecting children both by the Vatican and national bishops’ conferences “over the last few years”, nor, he added, the limitations in terms of authority experienced by Rome over the world’s priests, a point also fully explained by the prelates in Geneva on January 16.

Meanwhile, in his own response to the UN report, Vatican spokesperson Fr Federico Lombardi last weekend suggested that the UN committee had gone beyond its remit in some of the criticisms levelled at Rome (of 68 paragraphs in the report, 57 contained criticisms and recommendations).

"The observations of the committee," Fr Lombardi stated, "seem to go beyond its competencies, and to interfere in the very doctrinal and moral positions of the Catholic Church.” Here, Fr Lombardi referred to the Church’s position on issues such as “contraception, or abortion, or education in families, or the vision of human sexuality”.

Nevertheless, Fr Lombardi concluded, in keeping with its role as a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Holy See, “motivated by a long-standing commitment…in favour of the good of children…shall continue to dedicate itself to the effective implementation of the Convention, and to the maintenance of an open, constructive and sincere dialogue”.